This year I'm one-upping Hanukkah

Elana's giving Hanukkah a certain oomph this year to help foster cultural pride in her children

By Elana Schachter
This year I'm one-upping Hanukkah

Credit: Nate Steiner

Not to snow on anyone’s Santa, but my family is Jewish; we don’t celebrate Christmas. People often ask me incredulously, “You don’t celebrate ANY part of Christmas?” No, not really. Some years we are invited to friends for an unChristmas potluck or join others for Christmas dinner, but left to our own devices Christmas is a non-holiday. I like it that way. We have a plethora of Jewish holidays that take place in September and October, add to that family birthdays in November and December, and I welcome the break. (Not to mention Chinese takeout and movie night!)

My daughter on the other hand is disappointed. Last year, when she asked why we don’t celebrate Christmas, I asked her what she feels she is missing out on? She said the lights were really pretty. She’s right, the lights are beautiful. I myself have yearned to decorate our home with a string of sparkly lights. This year, my daughter is upset we don’t celebrate Christmas because she is missing out on “so many presents.”

I am starting to worry we will have this conversation every year. So this year, I’m one-upping Hanukkah, a holiday I don’t usually take that seriously. It is not an actual religious holiday, but its importance has been inflated by the competition. Now that kids are in the picture, I realize I want them to appreciate their own holidays and traditions, so here’s how I’m taking Hanukkah to the next level:

- This weekend we went to my in-laws to cook latkes. I got to sample a few and they were delicious! I cannot wait to have some more tonight, the first night of Hanukkah.

- I bought some new Hanukkah stories and have been reading them nightly to both girls.

- Last week we started counting down the sleeps until Hanukkah.

-    We sought out some dreidel shaped cookie-cutters and plan on baking Hanukkah cookies over the break (possibly on Christmas day!)

- Our friends and family will be joining us for a special Friday night Hanukkah dinner this week.


- I even hung up some Hanukkah decorations on our window.

- I also gave in and bought one or two presents that were fun, instead of something practical like pajamas or mitts.

Have you felt the need to up your holiday traditions since having kids?

Photo by Nate Steiner via Flickr

This article was originally published on Dec 20, 2011

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